Sunday, 31 May 2015

May 2015: Films

Aadmi Aur Aurat; Tapan Sinha (1984)

Drunk S and his crying. Met S on the lawn when i was going out for tea early morning after a sleepless night. He was drunk. We talked for some time. He made me watch the film and cried a lot watching it. I didn't cry. Liked the film though. Thanks, S.

Code Unknown; Michel Haneke (2000)

i want to eat Haneke three times a day.

Time of the wolf.

His murders. Really. That cut on the gun shot. Child suicide. How powerful it is. What the man says to appease the crying child is that what matters is that you tried and that you would have done it if i hadn't come. That is what should really be said to them. Because while attempting your life there exists only child logic. Or none at all.

All his Benny's are the same.

Love his intertextuality. His body of work is not separate. 

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Shrink Tales #7: When it was Time for Cal-Calcutta Kiss

Appachan used to tell me that the best way to inculcate the habit of reading in somebody was to introduce them to detective fiction. Whodunnits. That worked with me and failed with everyone else i tried that on. I shifted to giving children's books. I have a definite list of them which includes Totochan, the Little Prince, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. At home since both Kunju Thalona and Appachan were always talking about this book or that and because they seemed to be having great fun doing that there was no choice left for me but to start reading. I started with children's literature in my mother tongue, Malayalam. Pretty soon from Appan Thampuran library in Ayyanthole, Appachan lent me Enyd Blytons. I loved them. But by then Kunju Thalona and he were talking about more serious stuff. I was always lagging behind. May be that was why i decided i would start reading Perry Mason in class 8, the same time when Kunju Thalona started reading it. Sibling rivalry worked in strange ways at our home. I loved Perry Mason. Even now when my reading hits a hiatus i turn to the good old Erle Stanley Gardener to revive it.

When Kunju and i were engaged in talking about the beauty and thrill of Perry Masons, one day Sethuvamma timidly entered our conversation to talk about Byomkesh. I read my first Feluda after reaching the institute and Byomkesh was out of the question. On one birthday when Kunju gifted me a Feluda, writing 'so that you remember we had our own mysteries', i had only kept the book in the shelf and thought it would be boring. In the institute i finished the Complete Feluda in less than a week. I got a Feluda tee shirt fron Anand bookstall, Gariahat. It got stolen. Byomkesh was Sethuvamma's favourite sleuth on TV. That was why i took her along when i went to watch Dibakar Banerjee's Detective Byomkesh Bakshi!

I didn't like the film much. Sethuvamma herself said that the TV series she used to watch was much better. There was, however one concept that i loved from the film in addition to the lead actor. It was that of Calcutta Kiss. I liked how the paan made from the secret recipe was called Calcutta Kiss and also liked the part of the song which said that it was time for 'Cal Calcutta Kiss'. Could be because my female intuition (i believe women's intuition is better than males'. Yes, i am a sexist bitch) told me that i was going to have one soon. A kiss. In Calcutta, of Calcutta and therefore my Cal-Calcutta Kiss.

We kissed in a dark alleyway where we thought no one was looking. I am sure someone saw us. We kissed and kissed and kissed till we ran out of breath. I kissed my sadness into him and he kissed his fear into me. We moved to the bathroom where the exhaust fan and the light were connected to the same switch. I hated the sound of the fan and so we kissed in the dark and dampness of it all during the summer in Kolkata, 2015. Both of us broken souls and one kiss broken into pieces like shards of glass. It hurt.

I hid it from her for two days. When i told her after i realized it was impossible for me to hide things from her she said it was okay. Later she asked me how he was kissing me with all my cigarette taste. I felt like banging my head on the wall. She was good at that. Making me feel like an idiot.

Well, i was being one. I was jumping into something which i knew would ruin me. The same old pain. Pain over pain to get rid of other pain. Both of us kissers knew it was our end. We kissed still.

That was why i had to tell Ms Mullick about it in that session. This was before i told her so i was surprised when Ms. Mullick told me that it was okay. She noted that i was 'doing better' and asked me to take things as they came. Which meant i didn't have to be worried about what was going to happen because i kissed someone. I only had to kiss.
The previous week she had set the agenda of the session as forgiveness. She told me that i was to grant myself permission to make mistakes.This was going to be difficult for me because i considered pain as part of my identity and forgiveness would mean that i couldn't be hurt by my own mistakes. I said i would try.

The whole week i thought only of my Cal-Calcutta kiss. I thought of the other kisses i had had here and why they weren't Calcutta Kisses. That was when i realized that all kisses had to be documented. It's like history. It doesn't exist unless it's inscribed somewhere other than people's minds. In other words i am scared i would forget them myself.

My first kiss here was in the verandah of D11, the staff quarters where six of us girls were staying for a semester. NN and i both had the habit of sitting on the parapet. People would get scared seeing us that way on the second floor but we knew we were safe. He and i were having tea and he put his cup away saying 'I am no longer interested in the tea' before kissing me. I loved drama. So i liked how we kissd on second floor of D11, me on the parapet, him leaning on to me. Why, i even loved him for some time, i think. It's hard to tell now.

The second one also, following some strange tradition was on second floor. It was morning, neither of us had slept the whole night. We were talking holding hands and then i felt like kissing him. I did. It went on to create problems for both of us and we ended up breaking hearts of some people we loved so that was our first and last.

The next one happened under a Wim Wender poster i had stolen. He forced himself on me and i felt humiliated and bad. Our friendship itself was broken off because i was kissed when i didn't like it. Wim Wenders stayed.

Once in a party when both of us were drunk like everyone and when she was gazing the stars lying on the terrace, i placed a small kiss on her lips. She smiled. I smiled too and we went our ways.

But my Cal-Calcutta kiss was nothing like any of that. It was different because it was Calcutta. It was different because it was desperate and sad and all things the city was to me and all things a kiss was to him. I hope we never stop kissing. But i know we will and when that happens i hope Calcutta weeps.

Friday, 1 May 2015

April 2015: Films

Red Desert [Il Deserto Rosso]

Revisited. Still in awe as the first time.
Existential crisis at its peak. Man vs Machine. Industries.
The smoke.
In the end the child asks his mother why the smoke is yellow. It is poisonous, says she. Won't birds die when they fly through it? Asks the boy. No, they have learned by now that the smoke is poisonous and don't pass through it, says the mother. 
The tale Monica Vitti says to her son before his legs become all right. About the girl on an island. Who was singing? Asks the child. 'Everyone was singing' says she.
Nothing matters. There is only your emptiness with you. What am i but Monica Vitti in an Antonioni.
The part you liked the first time. Her speaking of taking everything with her while moving to a new place.
The music in the title sequence you wonder where it was from. By the end of the story it becomes diegetic because that's the song of the island.

3rd April 2015
Chidambaram G Aravindan

Liked it except for the narration by Gopi character in the end. Didn't like the woman at the temple in the end. Aravindan's style was ahead of his times. The body hanging limp in the cattle shed shot is beautiful. So is the shot in which Gopi peeps in through a window to see him hanging like that.

Things to copy: A shot in which a body is hanging that way in a room and someone is peeping in from outside. Work on sound to make it the opening scene. Show both the people without cutting. Do NOT cut.

6th April 2015
Innale: P Padmarajan

Allegorical about relationships. Past.
A woman who has relationships with two men.
Sexual jealousy of Jayaram and Suresh Gopi. The reason behind the prolonged kiss in the kitchen.
The dream sequence. No explanation to it. Yet evocative. Past is the protagonist. Aptly titled.
Things to copy: The opening sequence. The site of accident and rescue operations. People being pulled out of an upturned bus. Lit torches. Human power. Police. A good way to begin. Then cut to the whiteness of corpses.

On what basis was Jayaram cast and Sreevidya's son? [Never seen a more beautiful face than hers. May be Sweta Menon's] There is possessiveness for the mother also. It is all woven into the fabric with great care and ease at the same time.

A place where the brilliance of script is seen is with the Innocent, Lalitha episode where the photo Innocent shows is the one we see Jayaram try to take once.

6th April 2015
Detective Byomkesh Bakshy: Dibaker Banerjee

Liked the concept of Calcutta Kiss. As the name for the paan and the mystery around it. Otherwise a film like any other. Felt that the essence of Kolkata is missing even in this. Why?
Why do i feel only i am capable of showing the world the Kolkata i saw. I am seeing.

Kariyilakkaatupole: Padmarajan

Padmarajan was a male.
Second viewing. Slowly realizing the genius of the director. Karthika shall be my idol.
A woman who didn't give a damn about a womanizer is 'tamed'. With sex. It was not sex. It was rape.
But the good thing is that the woman raises the daughter alone. Unnimary becomes friends with the woman again and rejects Mammootty altogether.
Most male directors want to create an aura that Mammootty has in the film. Why is that so important.
The montage when Rahman kills and the paintings on the wall are staring at him is good.
Title cards with the picture of the cot is good too.
The mise-en-scene shows experience. Experience matters.

Novemberinte Nashtam.

His dream sequences are out of ordinary. The man is obsessed with relationships. Incest. Lesbian love. Amazing how he incorporated all that into commercial malayalam films.
Madhavi is just so pretty.
In one of the flashbacks in which they are both children she is a nun. Very clever.
The way Prathap Pothen's murder is intercut with the dream about the dog.
The song which is dedicated solely to the sister in law and Madhavi's relationship. What was that relationship but two women throwing men out of their lives. It is soon after that that the woman realizes she has missed her periods. How? Suggests physical intimacy. The brother is slowly moved out of the picture. Madhavi says she will disclose the details of the pregnancy to her sister-in-law and not her brother. Madhavi's death is not shown. Did she die really?

Namukku Paarkkaan Munthirithoppukal

To copy: the scene in which vineeth is sleeping with flying curtains. So night. So christian home. It is repeated in the end when Mohanlal comes to take Shaari. Shaari is beautiful as a lover.

11th April 2015

When there is a death people are only told that the person is 'serious'ly ill. It is only when they reach the hospital that they know. Or only when they actually see the body. Like how you saw appachan. Like how you hope against all hopes that it's not death that they mean by 'serious'.
No Malayalam film in which i have seen male sexual jealousy explored this way. Padmarajan was a feminist who wanted to hide his feminism. Suhasini's certain retorts to Mammootty are brilliant feminist statements. By making Mammootty kill the boy he made a strong statement against machismo. Unbelievable for a malayalee male director who was so popular.
Realized i was watching it for the second time when i saw that scene in which Mammootty's jeep had lost its brakes. Had seen it on TV and remembered that portion alone.

Introduced Rahman he did.

14th April 2015

Changed everything. So much to copy that i have to watch it shot by shot and make a note of it. Also planning to screen it in the main theatre with subtitles. 

17th April 2015


Life changer. So new. So fresh. It's a baby. Like Vib said it is negating the medium called cinema itself. You were just watching people's lives. So political yet not preaching. This must be the first time a dalit issue is being brought on screen in fiction. In this manner. How the wife says that he had no protection and that he was in the habit of going in drunk because it was impossible for any human being to bear with the smell if they were sober.
The second time he is arrested is also so political. And the mise-en-scene. Holy Moses! What craft!
What great use of sound. Sound and cinematography are invisible like how it should be.
How the family chews on sweet jeera after they eat out.
The portion where the judge on holiday asks his relative to change the name of the child, wear rings etc. Without saying anything it becomes political.
When lights are switched off it is a pseudo end. Then cut to the judge's holiday. Wow!
It was not a film i watched. It was another medium which the rest of us are unaware of.

Alaipayuthe: Maniratnam 

Didn't like it much. Wrong casting i felt. Lacks finesse. Just another film.

Margarita, with a Straw: Shonali Bose

Hard to say why i didn't like the film. Liked some parts. But nothing worth remembering. Hated the date with yourself idea which was shown through a mirror. So immature. Amu was better in many ways i felt. Not sure since i watched it long time ago. Nothing noteworthy or 'lootworthy'.

A Scene at the Sea: Takeshi Kitano

Loved it except for the montage in the end which seemed like something lifted from a mediocre Malayalam film. Liked the craft. The use of repetition, repetition of space in different permutation combinations of characters. Good.
(About a deaf boy who tries to learn to surf. His girlfriend, father, friends etc.)

Sonatine: Takeshi Kitano

The opening frame of the fish. Too good. Lost track of who was killing whom and who was who. Yet the film is good. How does he do that? In the end he tried to go back to the bad montage use. This time it was much better than the one in A Scene at the Sea. 

When NN Left

NN doesn't read my blog. She likes it that way. I like it that way too. This time even when it's her i am writing about i don't expect her to read it. We were always better off not reading each other. NN and i had been living together for more than two years now. We had been sharing a room for a year and a half. Recently i came to know that some people even took us for a couple. We weren't lovers but i miss what we were. Yesterday she left for Mumbai, where her home is. She might not come back.

Ever since i moved into the hostel with NN i had been frustrated about not having a space of my own. I was very uncomfortable with sharing a room and tried everything possible to get a single occupancy room. At a point i felt i was at the verge of a nervous breakdown for the same reason. I missed a workshop lying that i had chickenpox and went to Hyderabad, to Kunju Thalona just to spend time alone. 

Now i practically have a room of my own. It is much cleaner. Like how i liked it. No NN like music or lights and i can fart or masturbate whenever i want. As for space, yes, i have enough of it. Not much talking, like how i preferred it. Yet when i woke up in the morning and saw that NN's figure wasn't in the bed next to mine i felt a large mass of sadness settle in my chest. After two and a half years of being here and around her i realized that i had actually loved my roommate.

I never knew it. She was one among the very few people with whom i talked here. What little she knew of me was probably the only thing anyone here ever knew about me. Even then i never thought that i loved her. When i loved her i didn't know that was what i was doing. When i thought of it only differences came to my mind. We had differences in opinion about most of the things i believed in. From caste to gender to career i couldn't have had a conversation with her. But we laughed a lot together. In the end that was all that mattered. May be i would have been more at peace if she had the same perspective as me. May be i would have liked our relationship as roommates more. But i think what i felt in the morning was real.

She made me like dogs. She is who introduced hair conditioner in my life. She was good in everything i sucked at. Remembering roads, faces, names. We had names for most people on campus for the ease of talking about them when they were around. Among them were 'cornered guy', 'continuity', 'hairy movie guy' etc. We girls had our way with things i should say.

I want to write more. Impart our combined wisdom in pages and pages. I won't because after a point it will seem like NN died. I hope she doesn't kill me for having written this.

NN was my sound designer. With the playback project approaching her departure is going to cost us dearly. I hope she will be able to make time and come back. If not this is a definite goodbye and a late realization. Ms NN, much love from an empty room and ex roommate. You go girl.